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#2440132 - 02/12/11 12:31 AM A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial
trapped4ever Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 31
Loc: alaska
Well, here goes for the otter fleshing PM's. I picked up a couple little ones today, before the weather came up, and sent me home early. I did a demo of fleshing, for you all, with the 2 little guys this afternoon. This is how I put them up for the auction houses.

Before we get started, always comb dirt, dried blood, or really any sort of clumps, out of the fur, otherwise tears can happen when you hit these while fleshing. Be especially careful around conibear/ snare marks, bullet holes, nipples, and under arms. All are potential tears. If you do nick or tear, sew it up with dental floss.

My fleshing pole is just 4" PVC that I beach combed. Price $0. I cut the top end at a 45 angle. I've been using this one for years. There are a few advantages and disadvantages to using PVC pipe, but we'll get to those later. Here's my set up.



I use the beaver knife down to just below the front legs, all the way around. Like this....



If you have problems with the fat on the front legs, you can put them on a marten board or something for fleshing. I don't usually need to, but showed how, just to illustrate what I'm saying. Here's the front leg over my marten/ mink fleshing pole, which is 2" PVC, also beach combed. This helps stretch the skin taut for fleshing. I use my beaver knife on the front legs also.



Next, I lightly score the membrane into 5 separate lengths. I split down the center of the back, where there is a natural separation. Then, on the belly side, where the fat and membrane meet, I kind of fillet back towards the membrane, with the knife held very flat to the hide. Next, I split each of the now two pieces of membrane in half. This makes two pieces of membrane on each side, and a row of fat down the belly, for a total of 5 separate strips to be fleshed. NOTE: when scoring the membrane be EXTREMELY careful not to score into the leather. Most adult otters have a layer of fat between membrane and hide, so it's easier with them. Juveniles are much thinner skinned, so great care is needed, and I sometimes all together omit this process with little ones. It does make adults much easier to flesh, as you don't ever have to reposition the hide. Just rotate the fleshing pole slightly, and start a new strip.



These strips are then individually fleshed down to the skirt area, taking care to keep fat, grease, meat, blood off the fur, or pole. I usually cut off the strips as I go. This takes maybe 5 minutes. Depends on the otter though. Some older ones have a lot of gristle. My fleshing knife is a piece of 1/4" X 3/4" X 22" bar stock I scrounged from an old homestead site 20 odd years ago. Price $0. It's all I ever use for a flesher on otter. I did add duct tape to the "handles" about 15 years ago, as they kinda dug into my hands otherwise. Here it is after the strips are fleshed.



Next, I move the hide up the pole. Notice the front leg is now on the pole tip. One advantage to using the pipe here, is that the head is dropped back down the center of the pipe, keeping blood smears off your nice clean white leather. I usually have a lot of live foot trapped otter, that I dispatch with a .22. So some blood in the head area is common for me.
Moving the hide up the pole like this, gets the skirt/ tail up to the right height for working on. NOTE: When working on the skirt area, you don't need to worry too much about the last little bit of fat on the belly side, between the legs, as this area will be trimmed for an inspection window.



Then, I trim the last couple inches of fat from the skirt and back legs, using the beaver knife again. Be very careful around the nipples, as they tear easily. When done, it should look like this.


OK, now comes the fun part. I get the most questions about the tail. I just fillet it off with the beaver knife, starting from the top inside, of the "veins" of fat that run the length of the tail. Working from the center towards the outside edge. A super sharp knife helps a lot here. This is how I start...



Then, just carefully work your way out to the edge.



Here is where a wooden pole works a little better, as you can temporarily tack the tail open, to make fleshing easier. I hold my knife very flat to the hide, and pretty vertical to the tail, while doing this "filleting", like this....



Here's the finished tail.



Last area to do now is the head/ neck. For this, I lay the pole across my knees, and keep the neck area tight by pulling down on the front leg holes. I flesh back towards the head, using a longer, more flexible bladed type knife.




Finished products. NOTE: Inspection window cut out on belly side, lower lip removed for auction tag, and I try to remember to tack an eye hole open for CITIES tagger.




The tools I use for both skinning and fleshing otters. The safety razor rarely gets used. Only on older, more gristle laden necks. The older otter seem to have a lot more of this. Little ones tend to be much thinner skinned, so be especially careful on them.



Todays catch before processing.



I'm sure I left a few things out. I hope this helps some of you. Questions, comments or input, feel free.

My favorite picture of the day. One of daddy's little helpers.


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#2440148 - 02/12/11 12:42 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
alaskanbuckshot Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 43
Loc: Juneau Alaska
Thats great. Thanks
_________________________
Happy trapping, Jake

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#2440150 - 02/12/11 12:47 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
Sleepycreek4.5 Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/23/11
Posts: 4
Loc: SE Alaska
Great presentation!
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#2440153 - 02/12/11 12:53 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
mad_mike Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 179
Loc: Podunk, Alaska
Thank you for taking the time to show your methods on otter. I cuss everytime I get into fleshing one. Most helpful was the segmenting into 5 parts. This should go into the archives, White/Otterman??

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#2440154 - 02/12/11 12:53 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
Aknative Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/10/09
Posts: 21
Loc: Fairbanks AK
Thanks much for putting this up!
_________________________
Rumors of my assimilation have been greatly exaggerated.

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#2440161 - 02/12/11 01:15 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: Aknative]
watarrat Offline
trapper

Registered: 10/04/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Lake Iliamna Ak
Thanks so much for all the info! We have been taking a break from otters but now will use your pvc beams idea and go pop a couple. thanks again.




Edited by white17 (02/13/11 11:18 AM)

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#2440172 - 02/12/11 01:31 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
alaskanbuckshot Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 43
Loc: Juneau Alaska
I agree on it going onto the archives...
_________________________
Happy trapping, Jake

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#2440185 - 02/12/11 01:53 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
northway Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/25/07
Posts: 1264
Loc: Tok, Alaska
Thanks trapped4ever, that was a great tutorial for otter fleshing!

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#2440201 - 02/12/11 02:41 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
sharksinthesalsa Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/29/10
Posts: 2
Loc: Alaska
Wow nice write up!! Your hides look awesome when done. Just an idea for your tail. You said that it would be better to have a wooden beam to tack the tail flat. What if you had several rubber bands that you could put one above where your fleshing and one below. And maybe a fewdown the pipe that you coul slide up if you cut one. That might hold it better for you. Just a thought
_________________________
Beaver, as many as stars in the sky!! Fighting one another to get in your trap, screaming take me Bill Tyler, take me!!

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#2440210 - 02/12/11 03:34 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
Family Trapper Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 2087
Loc: Homer, Alaska
Well done. Thanks for taking the time. This is the kind of endeavors that makes this site so special. Archive YES
_________________________
Passion- There are some people who live in a dream world, and their are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.

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#2440359 - 02/12/11 07:58 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
FishinHank Offline
trapper

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 954
Loc: PWS, AK
Awesome!!! Thanks for posting this, it's going to help me out a lot.
_________________________
[TravC]: an educated coyote is like a fat girl on the diet....she dont slip up with a cheeseburger but sooner or later she goes for the bigmack

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#2440588 - 02/12/11 10:04 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
limabean Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/12/11
Posts: 10
Loc: Kentucky
Great post. Can I ask what beach combed is for the PVC?

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#2440594 - 02/12/11 10:06 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
alaska viking Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/25/07
Posts: 1846
Loc: juneau, alaska
That's a great lesson. Otter are about my least favorite critter to put up, and these southeast otter can be incredibly fatty. I can easily spend an hour or more on one!
_________________________
Intellectual capacity is no guarantee against being dead wrong.
Carl Sagan.

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#2440634 - 02/12/11 10:26 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
white17 Offline

"General (Mr.Sunshine) Washington"

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14832
Loc: McGrath, AK
Outstanding ! Thank you very much. We'll leave this on this page for several days so everyone gets a chance to see it and then move it to the archives. If it's OK with T4E I'll put a link to this thread on the main forum.


Lima Bean: he means he found the PVC on the beach.

I have a comment about the beaver knife. I use one on larger animals like otter, wolverine and wolf. They are easy to get very sharp but I find that I never use the back part of the blade. I also found that while concentrating on the knife tip I could make an unwanted cut with the rear of the blade. I duct taped over the rear 3 inches to prevent that.
_________________________
Mean As Nails

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#2440638 - 02/12/11 10:28 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: limabean]
mad_mike Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 179
Loc: Podunk, Alaska
Anyone have pics they could post of their PVC fleshing beams?

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#2440695 - 02/12/11 11:04 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: mad_mike]
scandiclt Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 33
Loc: fairbanks alaska
VERY nice T4E! Pictures help to clearify anything that words could leave out. Someday i will have to do one on skinning feet,lips, and ears for taxidermy. Have a whole series of pictures i've taken on that subject. Just not sure how to post the pictures. Don't want to steal from your thread though. Nice Job!

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#2440774 - 02/12/11 12:15 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
HFT AK Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 419
Loc: Wasilla AK
Awesome write up!! Thanks for taking the time to show how you do it, extremely informative!

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#2440851 - 02/12/11 01:08 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
limabean Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/12/11
Posts: 10
Loc: Kentucky
Thanks white17. Got a pm about it also. I thought it might have been something that was done to the pvc to hold better.

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#2440892 - 02/12/11 01:29 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
trapped4ever Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 31
Loc: alaska
W17, yeah go ahead on the link. Just hoping it would help someone out. Otter seem to be one a lot of people have problems with fleshing. Don't move it yet, as I have a few things to add tonight, after I get back off the line. Also going to try to do a post on otter blind foothold sets soon.

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#2440955 - 02/12/11 02:16 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
white17 Offline

"General (Mr.Sunshine) Washington"

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14832
Loc: McGrath, AK
We'll leave here for at least a week so you can answer questions.
_________________________
Mean As Nails

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#2441016 - 02/12/11 03:07 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
tmrschessie Offline



Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 7568
Loc: South Central Nebraska age 64
Outstanding post....I will probably never get to trap an otter here, but if I do this post will be in my files to use...Great Job...and a GREAT helper....Tom

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#2441161 - 02/12/11 05:01 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: tmrschessie]
trapper ron Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/08/08
Posts: 1224
Loc: Kelowna BC Canada
Excellent tutorial and a great job of fur handling. Notice the nice inspection window and how the tail is boarded short and wide rather than long and skinny. Very clean leather also.

For me I use the beam for the whole process, then tidy up with my safety razor and beaver knife also. Do not want to high jack this excellent thread but I could post a few pictures to add to it also, but only with the permission of the OP.
_________________________
Ron Lancour
Director BCTA
Trapping Instructor
NAFA Trapper Consultant

"It's what you learn after you know it all that really counts."

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#2441448 - 02/12/11 07:10 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
watermann Offline
trapper

Registered: 09/05/10
Posts: 442
Loc: catskills,ny
Thanks for taking the time to teach us. Really professional post . Grampa , Anthony & Emiliano
_________________________
2nd season trapping
Yotes 1 ,finally
red fox
greys
fisher 2
Coons 1
beaver
grinners2
mink
rats

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#2442021 - 02/13/11 12:37 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
otterman Offline



Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 2400
Loc: SW Alaska
Great post T4E I clean skin them but have been thinking about trying a beam out when the new fur shed gets finished so next winter this may help me figure it out. How long does it take you to skin and flesh one
_________________________

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#2442106 - 02/13/11 03:51 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
trapped4ever Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 31
Loc: alaska
Ok, here's an update to answer more PM's. On the front legs, I use the beaver knife vertical on the underside of the front legs, kind of scraping down. Once I get to the armpit area on down, I resume using it flat to the hide. If you try to do the whole thing flat ,in a shaving motion, its easy to cut the hide, as you transition from leg, "2 layers of fur" to armpit, "1 layer".



The membrane around the legs can just be pulled out, and trimmed off.



Along the belly fat, I trim the membrane in a filleting motion. In this picture, the membrane is scored, and rolled back on itself. The row of belly fat is under the beaver knife blade. This separation is necessary, if you want to be able to flesh the strips of membrane separate of the fat along the belly, as they are usually adhered to each other, especially in the chest area.



On these, notice the front legs. If they are skinned down to the feet, generally you can just tuck them inside the hide. If you cut them off up the ankle further, you may need to nail or tack them shut, like one in the photo. Also, notice the belly boards. I generally wedge something under them. If you don't, after the otter dries, it can be tough getting the belly board out. It doesn't take much, just enough to give you a little slack under the belly board, so it slips right out.



On the tails, I just try to keep them wide, and as straight as possible. With a little practice, they get real easy.



Pull down the tail snug, and put in a couple nails on each side of the tail base, to hold it in place. Always do the tail first on any species, not the legs on the belly side of the board. Doing the tail first, gives you maximum length.



Then I rough tack or nail out the tail. A couple nails between each of these will finish this one off.



For the inspection window, I start up maybe 1 1/2" and cut out a small crescent shaped piece of fur. This is always done after the otter is boarded, and tail tacked out. Notice I scored the approximate piece to remove.



I even went so far as to put a hole in one, just to show proper repair.whistle I use dental floss. Notice all the fur is pushed back thru the hole, and none is showing on the leather side.



This is what I want my inspection window to look like.



Any other questions or comments? Feel free to PM if you prefer.
Trapper Ron, yes, by all means add on if you wish.
Otterman, depends on the otter, but you already knew that, huh? Do you do the case skin, clean skin method, starting from the back end, working towards the front. Sharpened moose-shin bone, native style? Or do you do them like beaver? Or maybe another way?

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#2442414 - 02/13/11 09:56 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
white17 Offline

"General (Mr.Sunshine) Washington"

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14832
Loc: McGrath, AK
Do you use many push pins ?

That's really beautiful work !
_________________________
Mean As Nails

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#2442660 - 02/13/11 12:10 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
otterman Offline



Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 2400
Loc: SW Alaska
I case skin from the tail and work towards the head have used a bone in the past but they just don't do the job for me with tendinitis in the elbows so stick to a razor sharp beaver skinning knife like you use with the wooden handle & round nose tip.
_________________________

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#2443391 - 02/13/11 06:31 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: otterman]
trapper ron Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/08/08
Posts: 1224
Loc: Kelowna BC Canada
Thanx for the permission trapped4ever. Here goes a couple of add on pictures:

For the fleshing of the legs I just put the end of my beam in the leg and flesh with my two hand flesher. I use a dull flesher by the way. Just a few different things to arrive at the same finished product.



I use fine sawdust, but not plywood sawdust, to keep the fat from running everywhere and getting on the fur. Be sure to clean it all off real well after boarding and before drying.





I just keep turning the pelt on the beam and working my way to the skirt. I do like the scoring idea and have heard of it before ... gonna try that.



I use my razor to clean up the head and those two hard strips of fat down the tail. Works very well. Also use my beaver knife in conjunction.





Two methods of drying the tails, one with screen which I prefer, and one with pins like trapped4ever.







Leg closure either by pinning pulling the skin from each side, but not overlapping, or sewing like making a beaver leg hole closer. A purse stitch. I always trim a bit to make a neat closure. Mostly I use the pin method. It is quite acceptable to just trim and leave the hole open also.











Inspection window cut out and belly wedge inserted



Couple of other tips:

Use a burlap sack to hold the otter from slipping on the beam which can cause singe. Also dampen the fur a bit to avoid friction. Just a wet rag and wipe it or mist with a spray bottle.

_________________________
Ron Lancour
Director BCTA
Trapping Instructor
NAFA Trapper Consultant

"It's what you learn after you know it all that really counts."

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#2445137 - 02/14/11 05:16 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
Alaskan Offline
"AMY SUE"

Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 4971
Loc: Gnome, Alaska
Threads like this are what make Tman so great. What a GREAT and informative thread!!!
_________________________
"Goats pee in the water sheep drink."

Life member: NRA, NTA, AkTA, AkFTA, WiTA, MnTA, MoTA, OrTA

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#2447200 - 02/15/11 05:48 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
trapped4ever Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 31
Loc: alaska
If you don't have access to fine sawdust, cornmeal mixed with kitty litter absorbs grease really well. Some of the otter guys around here use it a lot. Even after a pelt is fleshed, they put it on, then wipe it off with a rag, after the pelt is dry. It absorbs a lot of grease out of the hide, and keeps them from yellowing at all. I just use lots of paper towels, and wipe off oil, as it beads up on the pelt.

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#2447513 - 02/15/11 07:47 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
trapper ron Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/08/08
Posts: 1224
Loc: Kelowna BC Canada
Originally Posted By: trapped4ever
If you don't have access to fine sawdust, cornmeal mixed with kitty litter absorbs grease really well. Some of the otter guys around here use it a lot. Even after a pelt is fleshed, they put it on, then wipe it off with a rag, after the pelt is dry. It absorbs a lot of grease out of the hide, and keeps them from yellowing at all. I just use lots of paper towels, and wipe off oil, as it beads up on the pelt.


What works well is J Cloths. Do you have those in the US. We probably import them from you smile Anyway they soak up those beads of fat on both otters and beaver. Keep using the same one over and over and it gives the pelt a nice fresh look. One cloth will last for maybe 10 otters.
_________________________
Ron Lancour
Director BCTA
Trapping Instructor
NAFA Trapper Consultant

"It's what you learn after you know it all that really counts."

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#2459873 - 02/21/11 11:20 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
butcha Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/08/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Eastern Canada
Awesome guys!I was goin to mention the Razor Ron.For you guys that have never tried the razor on Otter, you won't believe how easy the tail, gristle on the neck, or gettin the saddle started is.I make mine out of disposables, single blade.I gotta put up a few tomorrow, I'll try to get some pics.I've gone to usin mesh for the tail on all Otter and Mink.I find it much less time consuming with the same and result.I never flesh Otter without fur-grade saw dust.I just use a one hand scraper with a old Ranch Fox beam.


Edited by butcha (02/21/11 11:22 AM)
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If God didn't want us to eat animals,why did he make them out of meat?

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#2462390 - 02/22/11 07:47 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
Dale Torma Online   content
trapper

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1277
Loc: Northern MN
Great post! Your pelts look great. I see so many greasy, poorly put up ones on fur tagging day, when they can be done clean and grease free just as easy if people would look at this post.

I usually put up my otter similarly, but havn't tried the razor. I have more troubles with small otter, cut a couple holes in one this year after doing some large otter nicely. I think my flesher was too sharp for the young small otter. I use a pvc beam also, taken out of the dumpster at work. I will try the sawdust too, I do have access to large quantities of ground corncobs, I imagine that would work also. I also frost dry mine in the -20 degree weather or colder and they come out snow white and tan great. Takes a long time to frost dry though, and you can't let the sun shine on them at all even in the cold or they will not turn out well.

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#2465612 - 02/23/11 02:40 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
FEZZ Offline
trapper

Registered: 09/15/09
Posts: 262
Loc: Connecticut
this is a great tutorial for some of us younger trappers.I have a question. Would i be able to use a beaver skinning knife to flesh the gristle of of a coon if i had to?
_________________________
Tight chains and full traps


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#2479117 - 03/02/11 12:08 PM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
butcha Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/08/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Eastern Canada
Yes
_________________________
If God didn't want us to eat animals,why did he make them out of meat?

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#2599468 - 06/02/11 02:01 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: trapped4ever]
shorthair Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 1145
Loc: Maine
Great post!!! Thanks
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"My biggest worry is that my wife (when I'm dead) will sell my traps for what I said I paid for them."

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#2599490 - 06/02/11 05:23 AM Re: A whole lotter fun (putting up otters) tutorial [Re: shorthair]
trapmando Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 147
Loc: Myrtle Beach, S.C
Outstanding job with this post.......THANK YOU
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